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ATP World Tour Finals 2020 Results: Rafael Nadal Advances to Semifinals

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2020

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during their tennis match at the ATP World Finals tennis tournament at the O2 arena in London, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Group play drew to a close for half of the bracket in the singles tournament for the 2020 ATP Finals at O2 Arena in London on Thursday. 

Dominic Thiem already qualified for the semifinals, making his match with Andrey Rublev a dead rubber. Rublev dropped his first two matches of the event, ruling out any chance of advancing.

Rafael Nadal's encounter with defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas carried plenty of stakes, however. The winner would claim the second semifinal bid from Group London 2020.

           

Thursday's Draw

No. 7 Andrey Rublev def. No. 3 Dominic Thiem 6-2, 7-5

No. 2 Rafael Nadal def. No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 4-6, 6-2

Full draw and standings are available on the ATP Finals' official site.

          

Recap

Tsitsipas ran out of gas in the third set against Nadal, allowing the 20-time Grand Slam champion to secure passage to the semifinals.

ATP Tour @atptour

Is this the year 🇪🇸 @RafaelNadal takes the title? 🏆 He moves into the semi-finals with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win over Tsitsipas! 👏 #NittoATPFinals https://t.co/x1V6k43uOE

Tennis TV @TennisTV

02: RF 03: RF 04: RF 05: RF 06: RF RN 07: RF, RN 08: ND 09: RF 10: RF, RN, ND 11: RF 12: RF, ND 13: RF, RN, ND 14: RF, ND 15: RF, RN, ND 16: ND 17: RF 18: RF, ND 19: RF 20: RN 19 straight years of at least Nadal, Djokovic or Federer in the #NittoATPFinals last four! https://t.co/EBrkNZIhvV

The first two sets couldn't have been much closer, with one service break in each frame accounting for who came out on top. The decisive set unfolded in far different fashion.

Tsitsipas opened and immediately dropped serve, the first of three straight games that ended in a service break. The 22-year-old struggled with his serve throughout the set. He missed with 55 percent of his first serves, which led him to go 3-of-11 on second-service points, per the ATP Finals' official site.

Nadal, on the other hand, was firing on all cylinders after Tsitsipas tied the match. This incredible backhand volley was an example of how everything was working for the Spaniard:

Tennis TV @TennisTV

Something a lil bit special 😍 @RafaelNadal #NittoATPFinals https://t.co/v1jnIb1Beu

Tsitsipas prolonged the set slightly by denying Nadal on the first match point. On his second opportunity, Nadal fired a backhand winner down the line.

Tennis TV @TennisTV

Sixth sense 🙌 The moment @RafaelNadal reached the last four of the #NittoATPFinals for the sixth time! https://t.co/6WNsk60bT5

An ATP Finals is one of the few achievements Nadal has yet to cross off the career checklist. He was runner-up in 2010 and 2013. Maybe 2020 is the year he lifts the trophy.

In the first set against Rublev, Thiem looked like somebody who had nothing to gain regardless of the outcome. He dropped his first two service games, which allowed Rublev to go ahead 5-1 en route to easily taking the set.

Thiem was refocused for the second set and earned a crucial break while trailing 3-4. He held serve in the next game to go up 5-4, but Rublev quickly leveled the set at five all.

The 11th game included 15 points and this lengthy rally.

Tennis TV @TennisTV

RIP this tennis ball 😳 Enormous 25-shot rally between Rublev & Thiem! #NittoATPFinals https://t.co/8OFuShUoys

Rublev eventually wore Thiem down and then maintained serve to end his ATP Finals on a high note.

George Bellshaw @BellshawGeorge

No great surprise to see Andrey Rublev beat the already-qualified Dominic Thiem in straight sets to end his stint at the ATP Finals. Not a bad week for the Russian, who was desperately close to beating Stefanos Tsitsipas as well. Sure he'll be among the field again.

"There are still so many things I can improve," Rublev said after the match, per the ATP Tour's official site. "That’s the main goal in the off-season. Now I’m really motivated to improve the main parts [of my game] before we start the new season."

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